Their shadows in flight crisscrossing the light through my office window, I look up to see one feather-fluffed fellow sitting on a crabapple branch, gazing right back at me. I wonder, if I silently and cautiously open the window, will he fly in?

It is so very cold out doors. The flock seems more weary than in past years. One sits on the ground outside the window, barely moving aside when I walk down the garden path; another is half asleep in the holly limb overhead. There are fewer, too, perhaps only eight to ten when often we see several dozen. On this coldest of January days, it must be difficult to keep warm, especially as there are no little fish to catch along the frozen sea’s edge to warm their bellies.

This one was so worn out, he sat in the snow beneath the holly tree, eating what the other Robins dropped on the ground.

The winter Robins arrive to our garden every year in January, nearly to the day (today, January 21st). Our garden is a postage stamp but we have planted it richly for the songbirds. The pair of ‘Dragon Lady’ holly trees hold their berries for the Robins, the crabapples have yet to be sampled, the winterberry is still ripe with fruit, and the tiny rosehips of the climbing white rose are beckoning.

We’re fortunate that on Cape Ann many American Robins nest and migrate along our shores. Some Robins live here all the year round; some arrive in springtime, having spent the winter further south in parts warmer; and some–the ones I like to call winter Robins–arrive in January, from parts further north. We are like their Bermuda, and they are here to feed on wild fruits and berries, as well as small fish fry and fingerlings, and mollusks.

Rime-sweetened rosehips


  1. Sandy Shaw

    Hi Kim, I sat by you at Cape Ann Museum Crane’s Beach talk and I told you about our poor hungry robins eating juniper berries. I feel almost like the same flock has moved to your yard and you have all those nice red berries for them. I hope so because the hundreds of starlings have really picked our junipers clean. Thanks for all your excellent photos of the natural world. Sandy Shaw, Essex

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Kim Smith

      Hi Sandy,
      It was so nice to meet you and your daughter. That was a terrific program jeff gave.
      I think we were talking on Saturday about your Robins, and ours arrived on Monday. They have moved down the street to the crabapple trees at Pirate’s Lane. I don’t know if was the extremely cold temperature, but they didn’t seem nearly as vigorous as usual. I was glad we had a variety of fruit remaining for them!
      Thank you for the good words for my photography, so very much appreciated.
      Warmest wishes,


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